Evidence points to eco-terrorists in Snohomish County arsons
April 22, 2004
RAY LANE / KING 5 News and Wire Reports
SEATTLE, WA- There was mounting evidence Thursday that eco-terrorists
were behind a series of arsons or attempted arsons at housing developments
in Snohomish County, Wash.
While there was no concrete proof of responsibility, evidence pointed
to the work of the Earth Liberation Front, a radical eco-terrorist
group linked to several arsons over the years.
Within the past three days, three housing developments have been targeted:
Lobo Ridge east of Snohomish, Cedars Crossing and Storm Lake Heights
"It appears that they're connected," said Jan Jorgensen
of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Dept. "It can't be a coincidence."
Bottles of flammable liquid were found Wednesday by a contractor at
three houses under construction at the Storm Lake Heights development
in the Snohomish area.
Homeowner Jason Michaud learned his house was one of three where federal
fire agents discovered lit incendiary devices. The devices had failed
to fully ignite, sparing Michaud’s home from burning to the ground.
"To have someone mess with your dreams like that is really upsetting,"
said Michaud, thankful his new home was still standing.
Agents found fire bombs, modified Molotov cocktails with slow-burning
fuses, at one of the sites. Similar devices torched two homes in Snohomish
Tuesday morning, causing an estimated $800,000 worth of damage. Then
builders found flammable liquids and a threatening note at another
development near Maltby the next day.
That note might be agents’ first decent lead. Federal agents said
one of the devices included material from the Earth Liberation Front.
With so many unknowns, new homeowners and contractors are still a
bit jittery. Michael Lamm, a private investigator owns an agency that
offers protective services, said business is picking up.
“We're getting a lot of calls right now requesting prices and quotes
and stuff like that," he said.
While Michaud hopes the arsonists don’t come back to his home, some
contractors said they’re ready if the firebugs try to finish the job.
“I think we'll be camping out here for the next few nights, might
have a little artillery with us,” said Pat Garrison, home builder.
“We’re not going to put up with it. I’m not saying we’re going to
shoot anyone. We might scare the hell out of them though.”
"If these are eco-terrorists, the contractors are playing right
into their hands because they're giving them more ammunition,” said
Lamm. “It's like a game now."
So far, the Earth Liberation Front, known to quickly take credit for
its actions, has not claimed responsibility for the arsons. No other
group has stepped forward either.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said Thursday that remnants
of the firebombs and other evidence have been sent to the agency's
lab in California, with all the analysis to be expedited.
Federal agents also pointed to the possibility of copycat criminals
at work, without eco-terror motivations.
The Earth Liberation Front has been linked to several arsons over
the years, including one at a tree farm in Oregon, another at a Portland
car dealership, and at government offices in Olympia, Wash. Three
years ago eco-terrorists also burned the Center for Urban Horticulture
at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Similar arson attacks have taken place in other states. Investigators
in Phoenix said that some people opposed to urban sprawl set fires
that burned up 11 luxury homes in 2002. Six homes went up a year later
in the San Diego area. "Enviro-arsonists" took credit for
those fires, saying the homes replaced wilderness.
KING5.com's Liza Javier contributed to this report.